Lee Majors Bionic Hearing Aid Review
Note: We do not sell or service Lee Majors Bionic Hearing Aid. Please do not contact us with questions- but feel free to post them in the comment section below.
If you’ve ever watched TV, chances are you’ve seen the commercial offering a 30 day trial period of the Lee Majors Bionic Hearing Aid for $14.99. Should you decide to purchase the hearing aid, you can make 3 easy payments of $99.95. So that $300 will get you one Bionic Hearing Aid, and if you’d like to buy an additional aid, you can do so for an extra $149.85. Since most people will need 2 devices, that brings your total to $450 for (2) hearing aids. To eliminate any confusion, let’s be clear, these are not really “hearing aids” in the traditional sense of the word. They aren’t programmable and cannot be customized to your loss, and cannot be custom-fitted. In fact, at the bottom of the Bionic Ear website you’ll see just as much stated: “PSAPs are intended to amplify environmental sound for non-hearing impaired consumers. They are not intended to compensate for hearing impairment.”
Overview of the Bionic Hearing Aid
As you can see in the photo to the left, the Bionic Hearing Aid is pretty small and will fit (somewhat) discreetly inside the ear. Obviously it is not custom molded so it won’t fit your ear perfectly like most hearing aids, and it may not be completely comfortable. The hearing aid comes with an assortment of different rubber “ear caps” which you can attach to the speaker portion of the aid. So that’s as much customization as you’re going to get with this hearing aid. As far as its technical specifications, the Bionic aid has a max output potential of up to 29db, which is just about normal for most amplifiers on the market today. In laymen’s terms, this means if you have anything more than a mild hearing loss, the Bionic ear won’t help a whole lot. Another important spec to look at is what’s called Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). The lower the THD, the better, as it means that essentially the hearing aid will have a cleaner sound and not sound…distorted. Most traditional hearing aids today have a THD of less than 1%. The Bionic aid has an average THD of less than 3.66%, which suggests that you are not going to have distortion-free listening.
Continuing on with just one more spec (these are important), the standard frequency of the Bionic aid is 1600Hz. You may be familiar with the concept of low frequencies and high frequencies and how they relate to hearing aids. In short, traditional hearing aids can output sound in a wide range of frequencies, from <125Hz to >8000Hz. When a hearing aid has this much frequency range, it means it can be highly customized to your hearing loss and provide a different amount of gain at each frequency. For example, let’s say you hear the low tones well, but have a hard time hearing the high tones (high frequencies). A hearing aid would then amplify the high frequencies for you, and leave the low frequencies unchanged. The result of course, is that the hearing aid helps you hear what you don’t already hear, and doesn’t mess with the other frequencies that you do hear- resulting in clear, natural sound. Having said all that, what does the Bionic’s standard frequency of 1600Hz mean? It means that the Bionic aid is going to apply gain at just one frequency, 1600Hz. You may hear just fine at that frequency, and if so, the Bionic aid will just make everything louder, and not necessarily clearer. An inherent problem with this sort of “one size fits all” amplification strategy, is that you can actually end up making your hearing worse.
Should I Buy the Bionic Hearing Aid?
The short answer, in my opinion, is “no.” To provide a more in-depth answer, let’s first look at the two main selling points of the Bionic Hearing Aid.
- It’s rechargeable: Since the Bionic aid is rechargeable, it eliminates the hassle of changing batteries, and is supposed to save you money since you’re not constantly buying batteries. However, at full charge, the hearing aid only lasts 6-10 hours. This means that you can never rely on the Bionic hearing aid for a full day’s usage, and since you can’t put a traditional hearing aid battery in the unit when the battery dies, you are always at the mercy of the rechargeable battery.
- It “won’t cost you 6 million dollars”: At $450 for a set, the Bionic aid is pretty affordable compared to many hearing aids on the market, but there is a catch. The problem with this rechargeable system is that the hearing aid will only last for a maximum of 500 recharges (and there are reports on the web of them not even lasting 300 charges). At this rate, if you only wore the aids for 6 hours a day, you’d surpass (let’s say) 400 charges in just over a year. That means you get somewhat better hearing, that isn’t personalized at all, for $450/year. That doesn’t seem like a bad deal, but here’s a thought. You can get low-end custom hearing aids, programmed precisely for your hearing loss, for as low as $2,000 for a set from your local hearing provider. These hearing aids will last 5 years. The means that for a set of very personalized hearing aids, that fit perfectly, which last 18 hours a day, you can essentially pay $400/year. There lies the problem with so many of these “affordable” hearing aids. They don’t really give you what you need, and they don’t really save you money in the long run.
The bottom line
If you’re not quite ready for hearing aids, but do need an affordable alternative until you are ready, I don’t think the Bionic Hearing Aid is the best option for you. At best, it’s a very temporary solution, but it’s not priced as such. To me, it’s just foolish to spend several hundred dollars on a temporary solution, when that money could be a down payment on traditional hearing aids, which you are likely going to need eventually anyways. If you want something to hold you over in the meantime, I would recommend looking at cheaper sound amplifiers, which can be found for under $100/unit.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.